December 16, 2011

“Buzz and company, the viral agreement”, an interview with Olivier Perez Kennedy

The “e-sens” website interviewed Olivier Perez Kennedy.

We hear more and more about buzz marketing. What is a buzz, in the marketing jargon?

Buzz is a marketing word that describes what we call “word of mouth”. Every time an information spreads transversely and horizontally – and not vertically anymore – we talk about buzz. We can also call this a rumor.

Considering the necessary parameters to a buzz success, what would you recommend to someone who wishes to start a buzz?

To start a buzz, you first have to agree to be provocative, funny or offbeat. You must do something that will have people talk, that generates word of mouth. You must give the material for people to talk about it. Also, among your target market, you should identify the mass connectors who are interested in the topic you are concerned with.

We have often talked about mass creators, people who create content. Most of the time, to buzz a video, you tend to contact mass creators but this doesn’t work. What you should do is to identify not people who write, but those who connect with each other, meaning those who would be keen to send a funny video to 50 of their friends when they find or receive one. If you reach these people, you will reach 80% of your audience.

Once you found who your mass connectors are, you must activate them (give them information, seek their views, etc.), and increase their level of awareness on a given topic in order for them to spread the message once they have received it.

Buzzing a message is like growing a plant: having a good seed is not enough, you also need a fertile ground. The advantage of this technique is that a blogger will naturally write about your topic without having anything to do with the company who started the buzz.

Knowing that a buzz mostly spreads thanks to the web 2.0 (mainly social networks and blogs), how can you guarantee that your buzz will spread over the Internet?

We know that recommendation is the strongest communication tool ever. Nowadays, consumers are more likely to trust their peers than a professional or a company. Therefore, a friend’s recommendation is the most powerful communication tool you can find. The number 1 rule of word of mouth marketing is to use the force of recommendation of people who bought or consumed a product. To buzz properly, you need to maintain a real relationship with bloggers who will spread the rumor. It is a long-term work, with sociological and psychological aspects. You need time to actually develop the relationship and build trust. If you want to ask a mass connector to send a video or a piece of information to their contacts, you need to have a pre-established relationship with them. The idea is to know your mass connectors in order to determine which ones of them will broadcast which message.

Can we ensure that people will trust our message?

Since buzz works based on recommendation, your message has to be real, sincere, deep and complete. “Buzz products” often flirt with something dangerous because if your consumers notice that the buzz was organized, they won’t like it. A way to avoid this situation is to be clear from the very beginning.

A buzz spreads because people interact with each other. But what happens if they distort the message? In other words, is it possible to control a buzz?

You can’t control a buzz but you can monitor it with proper applications. You need to check where your video is broadcasted, how, why, to whom, what effects it has, what will be your audience’s reaction. In the past, only big companies could afford to have access to statistics. Nowadays, with the web, statistics are often integrated by default in the media (YouTube, for example), which makes this type of marketing more accessible to small companies.

A buzz spreads very quickly thanks to the web 2.0. But is the Internet enough to start a buzz or do you also need to plan actions “in real life”? How do these two “worlds” interact?

E-reputation is a worthless concept. If you have a bad reputation in real life, you will never be able to have a good e-reputation and vice versa. This shows that the online and the offline worlds are totally interconnected. For example, in 2009, for the Parti libéral genevois, we did a campaign of guerrilla marketing and street marketing that impacted on Facebook. People actually took pictures of the installations they saw in the streets and posted them on Facebook, which created the buzz. The real impact of such a campaign is hard to calculate. Indeed, some people took pictures without posting them on Facebook, but showed them to their friends and families. This contributes to the buzz as well, but can’t be measured on the web.

More and more people adopt a marketing strategy focused on the web, including using social networks to spread their message. What do you think are the main reasons to this?

It is obvious that, nowadays, information spreads very quickly and you can’t exclude Internet from your marketing strategy.

With the web 2.0, instead of reaching 5 persons per day, you can reach 5’000 to 6’000. In addition, buzz as a communication tool is now better than any other. For instance, with a budget of CHF 50’000, you will have more results with a buzz than with a billboard campaign. This marketing technique democratizes advertising, but it is not cheap! I think that we are currently in what Seth Godin calls the “after advertising”, which corresponds to the point when people connect with each other. You just need to look at the success of blogs and social networks to realize the importance of these media and the power of recommendation.

Many companies and organizations say they succeeded in creating a buzz. Could you tell us if there are parameters to calculate the success of a buzz operation?

In order to measure the success of a buzz video, you need to look at the number of views on YouTube, but by putting the video back into its context (considering the size of the audience and the topic). For example, we recently produced a video about Geneva that got 6’000 views. That doesn’t seem much, but for Geneva, 6’000 is a very good result compared to the potential audience. On an other hand, I heard on TF1 about a video that had supposedly made a buzz with 10’000 views. For France, 10’000 views are not so much. It also depends on the subject of the video: if you are in a highly specialized field, 3’000 views will be a very good start.

Read the interview and the article “Buzz and company, the viral agreement” on their website by clicking

This article has been posted by Olivier Kennedy
on December 16, 2011
in #Other
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